Wouter Kellerman, Nomcebo Zikode & Zakes Bantwini

The 65th edition of the Grammy Awards brought together the finest talent from around the world. Key among them were the trio of Nomcebo Zikode, Wouter Kellerman & Zakes Bantwini, whose collaboration ‘Bayethe’ was nominated in the Best Global Music Performance’ category alongside Burna Boy, Matt B & Eddy Kenzo, Rocky Dawuni and Arooj Aftab & Anoushka Shankar.

The recognition came off the back of a highly successful recent run for all three artists; with vocalist Nomcebo Zikode helming the globally viral dance hit ‘Jerusalema’ in 2020, Zakes Bantwini’s claiming a double-haul at the South African Music Awards for his runaway hit ‘Osama’ and GRAMMY® winning flutist Wouter Kellerman accruing three Grammy nominations prior to this latest, record-breaking fourth nod as a solo South African act.

With ‘Bayethe’ the singer-songwriter, producer and musician came together for a carefully curated presentation of South Africa’s diverse sonic landscape. The song is both a post-pandemic balm and celebration of an assortment of South African sounds.

Beginning with a Zulu battle cry and imbued with a sense of overcoming, Zikode’s signature raspy vocals channel the healing power of indigenous African spirituality. Underpinning the message of universally rising again are the melodic turns of decorated flutist Wouter Kellerman and eclectic soundscapes crafted by the ‘King Of Dance’ Zakes Bantwini. Taking an afrocentric approach to Gospel; the song blends Maskandi-inflected instrumentation with Asian percussion and creates a rich aural melting pot where Afrohouse technician Bantwini’s delicate keys infuse with Kellerman’s whirling notes and Zikode’s lyricism in mercurial fashion. Organically combining the classical, spiritual and traditional; ‘Bayethe’ folds together the richness of South African music and lovingly presents its multitude of cultures to the rest of the world. With universal themes in both its message and sonic composition; it’s a fitting outcome that the song’s ethos aligns with its selection in the ‘Global Music’ category.

In addition to this trio’s live performance at the GRAMMY Museum; Bantwini participated in panel discussions around the trajectory of music as part of the Global Music Panel.

This inter-generational and cross-genre collaboration definitely drove conversations on African music forward and offered a glimpse of the continent’s growing influence, as UMG South Africa CEO Sipho Dlamini explains. “Every year sees more and more talented artists from the continent expand their footprint and grow their listener base. We see more songs charting on radio and DSP’s or dominating clubs around the world, so Africa is in good hands,” he says. “Zakes, Nomcebo & Wouter created a masterpiece and we’re proud that they’ve been recognized for their creation.”

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